Seeds Goes to Indonesia: Meeting Coffee Farmers Face-to-Face
Seeds has journeyed far outside of Homewood for a few months in the form of Jeff Huey, who has temporarily relocated his family to Indonesia! A lot of people know that Jeff is gone, but they don’t know exactly where he is, what he’s doing, or why he’s doing it. We decided to let Jeff communicate the purpose behind his trip in his own words so that the entire Seeds family will be “in the loop.”
Read on to see some questions we asked Jeff (who’s still abroad) and the answers he sent back.
Why did you decide to go to Indonesia?
One of the initial goals for Seeds was to trade personally with farmers. We wanted to get as close to the source/grower as possible and build a relationship just like we would our tomato vendor at the local farmer’s market.
In order for that kind of relationship to happen, you have to visit the coffee origin (a country where coffee grows) — there’s no way around it. Partnership in coffee truly only happens when there’s a physical contact and presence between farmers and, in our case, roasters. So we went to Indonesia to strengthen the partnerships we have worked hard to build and to maintain a lasting friendship.
What has been the high point of the trip so far?
For sure, the high point was traveling overnight (5-6 hours? from the farm to the port to ship off the coffee we purchased from the producer). We physically witnessed the coffee get loaded on the truck and unloaded at the port.
The best part about the whole experience was that the farmer (Willie, aka Sheriff), the processor (Lisa and Leo’s Organics), and the buyer (Seeds Coffee) were all there together to see the process through. That’s truly a rare experience for anyone in the coffee industry.
What has your family thought about being in Indonesia?
My family has really enjoyed it for the most part. Of course, it’s not easy to travel through 4 countries in 7 weeks and cross numerous time zones, but for a family of 8, we have done pretty well.
Changing cultures has been difficult, and getting to know the ins and outs of the people has taken some time as well. It’s always good for a family to witness other cultures so they can see the beauty of people and places that are spread around our world. There’s so much to learn from other cultures that can benefit our lives in the States.
What has been your biggest challenge so far?
The biggest challenge has been communication. When you don’t know the native language, it makes it really hard to build relationships. We rely heavily on our English-speaking partners to be an advocate for us. They do a great job, but it would be much better to know the language.
How do you hope this will impact Seeds as a company, as well as its customers and employees personally?
Visiting different coffee origins allow us to bring the stories home to our employees and patrons. It’s more than just talking about coffee farms and pretending like we know how to relate. Once you have stayed 2-3 weeks in a native village in the middle of nowhere, your appreciation for coffee and the lives of farmers is greatly impacted.
It makes a difference in how you roast coffee or brew coffee when you have personally visited where the coffee you serve comes from. Our employees and customers will notice the difference of going to the coffee origin by the way we care for our coffee and present it with quality and excellence.
Get to Know the Seeds Story
We appreciate a good story, but even more than that, we love sharing that story with our customers. Learn more about Seeds here, and be sure to come visit us the next time you’re in the neighborhood!